News Briefs:

Commission to consider shifting some public comments to committees
When the Blount County Commission meets on Thursday, Dec. 21, one item coming before them will be a motion to shift the public comments on items not on the agenda to subcommittees.

Members of the county’s Intergovernmental Committee approved the measure 6-4 during Tuesday night’s committee meeting at the Blount County Courthouse.

Commissioner Holden Lail made the motion. Lail told Blount Today that the motion was not a move to squash free speech of the public.

"My intent was to expedite their ability to express themselves and have it directed to the people who could help them the most and the quickest," he said. "My proposal was to direct (public comments on items not on agenda) directly to the
appropriate subcommittees."

In this manner, he said, the commissioners would have a week to bring it back and discuss whatever was being brought up by the public, he said.

"It got it interpreted that I was trying to shut down the process," Lail said. "What I was trying to do was make it more efficient so when people come with concerns we could do something about it."

Lail said it was said to him at the Intergovernmental Committee meeting where he made the motion that being able to speak to matters not on agenda was the public’s "soap box."

"That was their term, not mine. It was my impression we were there to conduct county business," he said. "In no way should it be construed to be an attempt to keep anyone from expressing their concerns. I want it to be directed so we can
address them quicker," he said.

Clerk and Master Carroll to retire; Flowers named to position
After 28 years, Blount County Clerk and Master Jimmy Carroll has said he will retire. Chancellor Telford Forgety Jr. named Brenda Flowers, Carroll’s chief deputy clerk of 16 years, as his replacement.

Carroll’s retirement was announced Tuesday. In a press release, Forgerty praised Carroll for his 28 years of service in the clerk and master’s office and his 12 years of service in the Blount County School System.

Carroll thanked all the current and former members of the office for their work through the years.

"I’m also very pleased that Chancellor Forgety has named Brenda to this position," Carroll said. "She has a comprehensive understanding of the office and has always shown sound judgment and fair treatment to everyone."

Flowers has 30 years of experience working in the legal field and has served more than 16 years in the clerk and master’s office. "I am very honored by Chancellor Forgety’s confidence in appointing me to this position," she said. "I feel I’ve got big shoes to fill. Jim set a good example."

Carroll said he is 62 and looking forward to enjoying time with his grandchildren. "I’m going to miss everyone associated with this office," he said. "We’re like family."

Maryville teen dies in motorcycle accident
A 15-year-old Maryville boy died as the result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident Monday night, Dec. 11, on Old Piney Road.

Matthew Aaron Cooper, 15, Scenic Drive, Maryville, was pronounced dead at Blount Memorial Hospital at around 9 p.m., according to a Blount County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Cooper was traveling north on Old Piney Road on a 2000 Kawasaki Ninja 500R shortly before 8:30 p.m. when he lost control of the motorcycle while negotiating a right curve near the intersection of Blockhouse Road. The motorcycle ran off the left side of the roadway and struck a tree and a mailbox post.

Cooper was wearing a Department of Transportation approved helmet.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety Unit is investigating the accident.

Chicago natives buy former A.J’s Players Club
The former A.J.’s Players Club is now Naterz Sports Bar.

Chicago natives Tedi and Hollie Cvitkovic bought the 9,000 square feet club in early November.

The couple, 34 and 32 respectively, each came from families who ran bars and grills in Chicago.

Tedi was working as a painting contractor and his wife was a stay at home mom in Blount County. They bought the club as an investment on a Friday in early November and had it reopened by the following Friday.

"It’s our place," Tedi said. "We opened it. We wanted a local sports bar for people to come and enjoy."

The main part of the sports bar has 5,000 square feet and 20 televisions with college and professional football, basketball and other sports network packages available. There’s also a patio bar. The third section of the club is the ‘Country Club,’ with karaoke and line dancing, he said.

Cvitkovic said the facility also opens for lunch at 11 a.m. daily.

"Our steak sub is a top sirloin we cut off the rump," he said. "We buy a full roast and cut and cube and marinate a top sirloin. If you took the pieces off, it’s an 8 ounce sirloin," he said.

Cvitkovic said the club should be a new experience for customers. "It is a bright, clean, fun, friendly atmosphere. We’re hearing from people over and over saying the atmosphere is awesome," he said.

The club is named for Cvitkovic’s two daughters. "One is Natalia, and the other is Tatianna, but we call her Tater."

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